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Though not the first rappers to incorporate unabashedly violent themes into their work (Los Angeles' Ice-T and Philly's Schoolly D were already established), N.W.A. paved the way for countless other groups with their 1988 classic, Straight Outta Compton. Backed by Dr. Dre's layered, cinematic, but funky production, N*gg*s With Attitude practically invented the term "Gangsta Rap," leading to extensive controversy, angry cops, shocked parents, and multiplatinum status. Their deadly serious subject matter came straight from the streets of South Central Los Angeles, where rampant gang banging and crack slinging had turned the neighborhood into a virtual war zone. Financially backed by profits from Eazy-E's days as a real life dopeman, the group's no-holds-barred rhymes struck a chord with both ghetto kids who lived it and bored suburbanites who longed to be hardcore. With the classic joints including the title track (which was banned from MTV), "Gangsta, Gangsta," and "Dopeman," N.W.A. exposed America to a very real mentality that had yet to be acknowledged or exploited. Undoubtedly their most infamous track was the inflammatory "F*ck The Police," which gained the FBI's attention. Ice Cube left the group after the first record to pursue a wildly successful solo career. The group dropped two more excellent albums -- 100 Miles and Runnin' in 1990 and N*gg*z4life the following year. They disbanded in '91 while feuding over earnings. Ren and Eazy continued to record marginal solo albums, while Dr. Dre blew up on the strength of his 1992 classic, The Chronic. Some ten years later they reunited (with Snoop Dogg filling in for the deceased Eazy-E), but nothing could match their original intensity. While literally thousands of emcees and acts have attempted to reproduce their street soldier sound and style, N.W.A. remain the epitome of gangsta.
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